Stocks – U.S. Futures Higher Ahead of Fed Minutes; Dow Futures Up 56 Pts

This post was originally published on this site – U.S. stocks are set to edge higher at the open Wednesday, continuing Tuesday’s positive tone after the benchmark S&P 500 index registered a record close. Investors will be keeping an eye on the Federal Reserve minutes as well as more earnings from the retail sector.

At 7 AM ET (1100 GMT), US 500 Futures traded 6 points, or 0.2%, higher, the Dow Futures contract rose 56 points, or 0.2%, while Nasdaq 100 Futures gained 14 points, or 0.1%.

At the close Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.2%, while theS&P 500 added 0.2%, closing at an all-time peak, and the Nasdaq Composite index added 0.7%, its 18th record closing high since early June.

The closely-watched S&P 500 index has made up all the losses seen when the  onset of the Covid-19 pandemic drove the benchmark index to lows on March 23. This has taken just 126 days, the fastest ever recovery from a bear market.

Driving this recovery has been the Federal Reserve’s intervention in financial markets to maintain liquidity in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as cutting interest rates to near zero.

With this in mind, investors will pay close attention to minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting, due later in the day, for how the central bank sees the economic recovery and for clues over future action at its next meeting.

Additionally, hopes are rising that there could be a deal on a scaled-down stimulus package from Congress, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that Democrats could reduce their proposal to reach a consensus with Republicans. 

The retail sector will remain in the spotlight, after strong numbers from Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Walmart (NYSE:WMT) Tuesday. Both Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) and Target (NYSE:TGT) continued the positive trend, with strong second-quarter comparable sales increases. TJX (NYSE:TJX) is also due to report earnings Wednesday.

Oil prices weakened Wednesday, consolidating after overnight gains on the back of a drop in U.S. crude inventories of 4.3 million barrels, industry data from the American Petroleum Institute showed after the markets closed on Tuesday.

Investors will now look for the official U.S. government inventory data later Wednesday, as well as a meeting of most of the major oil producing countries in the world to review adherence to their deal on oil output cuts.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% lower at $42.76 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.8% to $45.11. 

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.9% to $1,995.30/oz, retreating below the $2,000 level. EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1938, on course to touch $1.20 for the first time in over two years.